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    <Content Warning: This chapter contains descriptions of self-harm that some readers may find disturbing.>

    Chapter 31

    The reason for the sudden hemoptysis was clear.

    [Penalty: Suffers from chronic hemoptysis in inverse proportion to the frequency and level of pain exposed.]

    It was because he hadn’t been able to pay attention to the penalty of the ability [Sensory Conversion] for a while. Seojin himself had been anxious, wondering when he might suddenly vomit blood in front of others.

    ‘…This is why I tried to acquire an ability that could solve the problem first.’

    Until now, he had been lucky enough to experience this phenomenon only when he was alone, but there was no guarantee that it would continue to be so. Unless he was consistently exposed to a certain level of pain.

    Seojin suddenly thought of stimulating Cha Do-beom’s violent nature, but he immediately erased the idea. He needed to find a fundamental solution within the system, not a temporary expedient like that.

    But before that, he had to deal with the silence that had descended upon this bathroom first. Starting with his relationship with Nam Seungwon, who was standing in place as if nailed, with his eyes wide open, looking this way.

    “…Are you okay?”

    Seungwon’s voice, asking about Seojin’s well-being a beat late, was tinged with an undisguisable color of bewilderment. He seemed to have been quite shocked by directly witnessing a situation he had only seen in dramas.

    [Nam Seungwon’s (Compatibility: High) favorability has increased by 1.]

    [As a reward for achieving the target’s favorability of 55 (Normal), a Silver Talent Card will be awarded.]

    However, a welcome system message with unexpected content popped up.

    ‘Huh?’

    Seojin’s eyes, who had been pondering what kind of excuse to make, shone with interest.

    [Conquest Method: Let’s show an attitude of pretending to be calm, contrasting with the weakness etched in the target’s (Nam Seungwon’s) mind, to make him feel pity.]

    After checking the status window, he judged that he could turn this embarrassing situation into a blessing in disguise. Moreover, the direction of the character setting was already given, so he just had to faithfully follow it.

    Seojin, who quickly collected his thoughts, put on a nonchalant expression. Seungwon’s surprised gaze naturally followed his movements as he slowly walked without any response.

    After stopping in front of the sink and hesitating for a moment, pretending to blink, Seojin finally revealed the hidden devastation when he lowered his hand that had been covering his mouth. A pitiful and stimulating sight that made the heart tremble.

    His moderately plump and red lips, stained with bright red blood, drew attention even more intensely, and his blood-soaked palm also stood out more vividly against his originally fair skin tone.

    Even after Seojin washed away the blood with water, maintaining a calm expression, Seungwon still vividly recalled the image of his lips soaked in red blood. As well as the sorrowful eyes that had tried hard to hide their emotions.

    “You… don’t need to go to the hospital?”

    Even though he noticed the other person’s silent plea to please pretend not to know, Seungwon couldn’t help the question that suddenly spilled out of his mouth. Even though he found his own behavior unfamiliar.

    “Ah, that just now was accidentally… a capsule that was left in my mouth.”

    Seojin, who was about to make an excuse about a fake blood capsule for makeup while letting out an eye smile that would easily captivate anyone, trailed off. As if realizing belatedly that it was an absurd excuse and sighing.

    “…Even if I say that, you won’t believe me, right?”

    The smile that had somehow turned bitter shook Seungwon’s sensitive nerves along with the voice tinged with resignation. It was because the young junior in front of him suddenly overlapped with the terminally ill protagonist of a movie he had been deeply moved by in his teenage years.

    If he had wailed loudly, lamenting his own fate or cursing the world and wreaking havoc on others, he would have turned off his mind, but the appearance of pretending to be fine and smiling kindly was really…

    “I’m sorry for making you see me like this for no reason.”

    Seojin, who had tidied his clothes with his wet hands, bowed deeply and apologized. Seungwon couldn’t say a word.

    “I will make sure there are no issues with the drama filming schedule.”

    It was because the calm appearance of the young junior overlapped with that of the terminally ill movie protagonist who had inspired him to become an actor, focusing only on achieving his unfulfilled dream in his last moments.

    “So please…”

    Unfortunately, he couldn’t finish his words, but Seungwon also knew what kind of request Seojin wanted to make. A plea to please keep this secret.

    If the fact that Seojin was sick enough to vomit blood became known, the casting for “Revenge Game” might be overturned. Because even if he was a talented and gem-like actor, he was still just an unknown rookie actor, not a top star.

    Seungwon, who had been looking at Seojin with wavering eyes as he lowered his gaze pitifully and chewed on his wet lips, let out a low sigh. He hated this feeling of being swayed.

    At that moment, he felt a throbbing pain in his head and covered his forehead and temples with one hand, frowning. As if trying to forcibly shake off the absurd thoughts of pitying Seojin and wanting to hug him.

    “Do well in the future so that it doesn’t bother me.”

    Contrary to his heart, Seungwon spat out a cold remark, and Seojin’s expression brightened considerably, as if he took it as a sign that he would keep the secret.

    Seungwon, who hesitated upon seeing that innocent and bright face, frowned even more and moved his steps out of the bathroom as if he had nothing more to say.

    “Sunbaenim, thank you! Thank you so much!”

    He felt Seojin bowing and thanking him repeatedly from behind, but Seungwon deliberately didn’t look back. He just silently quickened his pace. With much faster and larger strides than usual.

    [Status: He is trying hard to deny his shaken heart at the pitiful appearance of the user (Yeon Seojin).]

    Left alone, Seojin stared at his back with a meaningful gaze. Because he knew the reason why Seungwon had turned away so heartlessly more clearly than the person himself.

    Even if he didn’t know exactly what it meant for his heart to be shaken, it didn’t seem like it would have a negative effect on him. In his experience, favorability numbers tended to follow the direction of the heart, even if the person denied it.

    ‘I’ve put out the urgent fire for now, but I can’t let my guard down yet.’

    However, Seojin couldn’t relax even after successfully finishing the subsequent filming. Even after separating from the personal staff assigned by the agency and being left alone in the safe Gyeonggi-do villa.

    It was because of the realization that he now had to endure all the aftereffects that had been postponed by [Penalty Acting] and would hit him all at once. Unlike before, he wouldn’t feel pain, but that made him even more nervous.

    ‘If I’m going to be swallowed up by uncontrollable pleasure anyway…’

    Seojin stared blankly at his palm, which had been severely injured just a few days ago to the point of needing bandages. The amazing condition of his skin that had healed cleanly without leaving a trace.

    If Hanjuin or Cha Do-beom happened to see this palm later, they would find it strange. So, Seojin intended to take some measures before meeting them again.

    But today, he suddenly had the thought of handling the problem of not leaving scars due to the ability [Vampire Seeking Warmth] by linking it with the problem of hemoptysis at any time due to the penalty of [Sensory Conversion]. Through a very bad method called self-harm, which he would never have even imagined under normal circumstances.

    ‘Even if it’s just a temporary expedient to use until I find a definite solution, it’s worth experimenting with.’

    Since a storm of pleasure that he wanted to avoid but couldn’t was scheduled, now was the most suitable time to experiment.

    Seojin wanted to take this opportunity to see if he could control the situation of hemoptysis at any time through self-harm. He had to create scars with makeup for the time being anyway.

    Seojin, who had laid his body halfway in the marble bathtub for easy aftercare, tried cutting his wrist once with a kitchen knife. As expected, he didn’t feel any pain at all.

    Even when he messed up his palm with a sharp weapon and further randomly cut his wrist, all he felt was the strange pleasure that wrapped around his body.

    ‘Ha, I don’t like this after all.’

    Seojin, who threw the knife on the bottom of the bathtub, frowned and inwardly made a resolution. After getting through this penalty storm well, taking a bath again, and drawing a new ability.

    So that he could solve both the pervert-like effect that made him feel pain as pleasure and the penalty that made him anxious, not knowing when he would have hemoptysis. He hoped that [The Dice of Fortune] would do its job properly this time.

    Seojin, who had been looking down at his arm with a dazed gaze, flinched as he tried to stop the bleeding with his other hand. It was because the bathroom door opened roughly with a loud bang!

    [Due to the penalty of the ability ‘Copier in My Head’, you will suffer from prosopagnosia for 12 hours.]

    [Due to the penalty of the ability ‘Delicate Tuner’, your sense of touch will become extremely sensitive for 12 hours.]

    [Due to the penalty of the ability ‘Rubber Band Effect’, you will suffer from anemia and dizziness for 24 hours.]

    [Due to the penalty of the ability ‘Penalty Acting’, you will suffer from a high fever for 24 hours.]

    Almost simultaneously, the aftereffects that had been delayed hit Seojin. The timing was very exquisite.

    ‘…Who is it?’

    Seojin blankly looked up at the person who ran to him with a terribly pale face and embraced his body. The face of the other person reflected in his spinning vision looked blurry, like an existence beyond a frosted window.

    “Jin-ah…!”

    Seojin reflexively pushed the other person away roughly due to the maddening heat that suddenly coursed through his body.

    [Due to the penalty of the ability ‘Vitality Manipulation’, you will fall into a state of unconsciousness for 6 hours.]

    And he fainted on the spot, unable to continue his thoughts any further.

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